The Japan Wool Textile Co Ltd (Nikke) sheared sheep pastured at a mega (large-scale) solar power plant in Inami-chou, Kako-gun, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan, that has an output capacity of about 16MW and is run by the company May 27, 2014.
The plant, "Nikke Machinaka Power Plant Akashi Tsuchiyama," was built by Nikke on a site that was previously a short golf course, "Nikke Golf Club Tsuchiyama Course," which closed in September 2012.
An approximately 11MW solar power generation system installed in the first construction phase started power generation in October 2013. And an about 5MW system set up in the second phase started operations in February 2014. The solar systems are steadily generating electricity partly because solar irradiation increases from February to May, increasing the amount of electricity generated.
Nikke pastured the sheep at the mega solar plant to provide comfort and friendliness to residents in the neighborhood. The company was afraid that an array of 50,000 solar panels would give a cold impression. A sheep is also used as a mascot character of the company, whose original business is wool spinning and weaving, in its public relations efforts.
There are three sheep in an area of about 15,000m2 on the plant site measuring about 220,000m2. In the area, most of the golf course's greens have been kept to give a comforting impression, and pastured sheep have a weeding effect.
The wool of the sheep introduced to the mega solar plant grows about 10cm per year. And Nikke decided to shear it at this time of the year. This is the first time that the wool has been sheared since the plant started power generation. And the sheep shearing event was participated by the breeding staff of Rokkosan Pasture (Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture), which provided the sheep, students at Hyogo Prefectural Agricultual High School, new employees of Nikke, etc.
About 4kg of wool was sheared from each sheep. Looking refreshed, sheared sheep started to graze again. The wool will be exhibited at a competitive show.